MAASTRICHT. Her work as a postdoc at Berkeley did not make it easy for her to ‘just pop over’ to Maastricht in order to accept the dissertation prize during the Dies celebration, last Friday. But a recently born baby made planning even more difficult. Ann-Kristin Zobel (27), originally from Germany, received full praise for her dissertation on innovation in businesses, which she defended in December 2013. She received €3,500 on behalf of the Professors’ Fund.
The School of Business and Economics constitutes the basis of her career. Straight from secondary school she moved to Maastricht to study International Business. She followed that up with a master’s study and a PhD to boot.
And as if it’s a piece of cake: within three years there was a dissertation. Oh, and by the way, in the meantime she worked as a ‘visiting doctorate researcher’ at Berkeley’s Institute for Business Innovation – where she was later asked to do a postdoc.
The jury (professors from the city centre and Randwyck locations) unanimously chose Zobel’s dissertation Open Innovation: A dynamic Capabilities Perspective. Its “quality is excellent,” the jury report states. The jury was impressed with its content, accessibility and transparent style. “Ann-Kristin has succeeded in convincingly providing scientific insight into a typically ‘difficult and multi-interpretable’ subject from the field of Business Administration.”
Open innovation means that businesses open up to innovative ideas and discoveries by others - competitors, suppliers, but also researchers or other parties. Businesses can actually benefit from inward and outward flows of knowledge and technology. Of course an entrepreneur will remain an entrepreneur; he or she will look carefully with whom knowledge is shared. Zobel investigated when openness and innovation were the most effective – which capabilities a business should have in order to notice those clever ideas, and subsequently to absorb them and turn them into something useful.
Since last year, a new prize is being awarded during the Dies celebration: the dissertation prize. Heleen Bouman from Randwyck won last year. It was the city centre’s turn this year. Five dissertations were shortlisted.